This past Thursday, May 20, the administrations of both President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that no changes are set to be made to U.S.-U.K. travel policies anytime soon, according to a Forbes report.

Biden and his team have been in discussions with government and industry officials for the past month, trying to develop a plan that would grant vaccinated Europeans entry to the U.S., though no decision has yet been reached. While no official timeframe had been set, sources within the Biden administration had told CNBC it had been previously hoped that the U.S. might be able to lift the ban on travelers from the U.K. and the European Union (E.U.) by mid-May.


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Reopening from COVID-19

U.S. and U.K. administrations are under increasing pressure from travel sector organizations, businesses, unions and airlines to reopen Transatlantic travel to non-essential visitors, especially after the news broke earlier this week that the E.U. had approved a ruling that fully vaccinated tourists from outside the 27-nation bloc would be welcomed by summer.

Reacting to this news, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow released a statement urging the U.S. government to follow the E.U.’s lead. “The European Union’s risk-based, science-driven plan to reopen international travel will hopefully spur the U.S. to heed the many calls for a plan and timetable to safely reopen our borders,” he wrote. “The right conditions are in place: vaccinations are increasing, infections are decreasing, all inbound visitors get tested or have to prove they’ve recovered, and it’s possible to determine vaccine status.”

“Vaccinated Americans can travel to other countries because E.U. governments know they’re essential tourism spenders and will safely support economic recovery,” Dow said. He also opined that there’s a “quid pro quo” element at play. “The U.S. is being left off the U.K. and E.U. safe list because we aren’t yet moving forward to let international visitors back in,” he argued.

Responding to the question of whether the U.S. planned to reciprocally grant entry to vaccinated European visitors, a White House spokesperson told Reuters during Wednesday’s news conference that “there were no changes in travel restrictions planned at the moment.”

At the same time, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reportedly pointed out that any decision to loosen or lift restrictions is fundamentally a public health issue, and that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would therefore ultimately decide the question.

U.S. and U.K. passports on a vintage world map.
U.S. and U.K. passports on a vintage world map. (photo via iStock/Getty Images E+/belterz)

On the other side of the pond, since it’s no longer part of the E.U., the United Kingdom’s government also continues its deliberations about restrictions, even as the country was declared to have officially restarted foreign travel on May 17. Under the U.K.’s new “traffic light” system, the United States has been categorized as an “amber” country, which means anyone arriving from America (including returning residents) must undergo 10-day quarantine restrictions and take a series of COVID-19 tests.

The British government’s “green”

Travellers at Heathrow Airport, London, Britain, February 13, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A coalition of U.S. and European travel, airline, union, business and airport groups on Monday called for fully reopening the U.S.-UK air travel market “as soon as safely possible.”

In a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the groups said the leaders’ planned meeting in early June “would be an ideal opportunity for a joint announcement of the full reopening of the U.S.-UK air travel market for both U.S. and UK citizens.”

The United States since March 2020 has barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in the UK from the United States.

“The return of Transatlantic flying would not only have a significantly positive impact on our respective economies but will also reunite those who have been separated from their loved ones for over a year,” said the letter, signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Airlines for America, Global Business Travel Association, Air Line Pilots Association, Virgin Atlantic, Association of UK Airlines, Aerospace Industries Association and others.

“Safely reopening borders between the U.S. and UK is essential for both countries’ economic recovery from COVID-19.”

On Monday, the European Union’s executive recommended easing COVID-19 travel restrictions next month to let foreign travelers from more countries enter the EU, hoping to boost the stricken tourism industry this summer.

One question remains whether the U.S. government will participate in helping Americans establish to foreign governments that they have been fully vaccinated in order to travel.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said “there will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

India, Brazil, China, Iran, South Africa, Ireland and 26 other countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders are also covered by the severe travel restrictions that prevent most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States if they have been within one of those countries within the last 14 days.

In January, Biden reversed a decision made by President Donald Trump to rescind the entry bans on the UK and other European countries.

Nearly all of Europe still bans most U.S. travelers from visiting, while Britain allows American visits but requires a 10-day quarantine upon arrival and two COVID-19 tests.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

(CNN) — Maybe it’s falling asleep on the red-eye flight, dreaming of gleaming skyscrapers before waking up to views of Long Island, ready to live out all your NYC fantasies.

Or perhaps it’s finally breezing down Route 66, the California wind in your hair, and the open road boundless in front of you.

For many British travelers, a vacation in America is a dream come true, a culmination of years of consuming US cinema and culture.

But it’s been a dream that’s been essentially off the table for over a year.

In March 2020, as Covid-19 spread across the world and borders closed, the US banned all non-essential travelers from the UK.

This rule remains in place, and while there’s no reverse ban on US travelers entering the UK, ongoing British quarantine and lockdown restrictions mean few Americans are vacationing in Britain right now.

Both the US and the UK have suffered greatly over the course of the pandemic, with grimly high death rates.

But recently there’s been a glimmer of hope: both nations are enjoying speedy and largely smooth vaccine roll-outs.

While much of mainland Europe is entangled in vaccine delays, as of April 9 the UK had fully vaccinated 9.16% of its population and the US had vaccinated 18.74%.

President Joe Biden has promised vaccines for all US adults by the end of May, recently upping that to mid-April. Meanwhile, Britain is on track to meet its goal of offering the first jab to all adults by the end of July.
The CDC recently amended guidance to confirm fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves. In March, CNBC reported that Biden’s administration is considering lifting the long-standing UK travel ban, and the similar bans that currently block EU and Brazilian arrivals.
And while non-essential international travel in the UK is off the table until at least May 17 — and potentially illegal until June 30 — the UK government’s recent reveal of a “traffic light” system for international travel, in which destinations would be grouped into “red,” “amber” or “green” categories depending on their vaccination roll-out and infection rate, suggests the US could be one of the more viable options for UK travelers this summer.

Popular airline route

British Airways aircraft parked at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport in February 2021.

British Airways aircraft parked at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport in February 2021.

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Pre-pandemic, the transatlantic travel corridor was one of the most popular in the world. Unsurprisingly, the major UK aviation players are keen for the route to be reopened.

British Airways’ CEO and Chairman Sean Doyle calls transatlantic travel “crucial,” highlighting that in 2019, 22 million passengers flew between the UK and US.

Doyle points to the impact of the travel ban not only on vacationers and business travelers, but also on families.

Covid-19 travel rules across the world have forcibly separated some binational couples, many of whom have rallied under the Love is Not Tourism banner and have been campaigning for a lifting of — or exception